Nairo Quintana will return to the pro peloton and join former team Movistar on a one-year deal after a season-long hiatus from the sport. The Colombian has been without a team since testing positive for Tramadol at the 2022 Tour de France, a substance prohibited by the UCI, but at the time not on the WADA banned list.
The 33-year-old spent his last three years in the sport at Arkéa-Samsic, but the French team dropped him after his disqualification from the Tour where he had finished sixth, his best result at a Grand Tour since his time at Movistar.
Quintana’s glory years were at the Spanish team where he triumphed at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, alongside famously fighting Chris Froome at the Tour de France where he twice finished runner-up. It’s an understandably meaningful return for the South American icon of the sport.
“It’s super emotional for me to be back home. It’s been such a tough year. The sleepless nights, so many days of sacrifice, going on my bike and trying to keep pushing, under the rain or the scorching sun. But it was all worth it. I won’t waste this opportunity,” said Quintana in a press release.
“I know the values of the team, the values of sport. I will give my everything do things right, and I want to help the team achieve the best results. I’m so incredibly thankful to the Movistar Team, Telefónica, the squad, the whole squad, for this great opportunity, which I’ve been waiting for for so long.
“With all my heart and my legs, I’ll do my best to make them, as well as the fans, happy and proud. I hope this era now starting will be a really successful one for the team.”
Movistar announced Quintana’s surprise return in a social media post with the delighted Colombian talking over a montage of his best moments at the Spanish team.
He is the eighth signing of this transfer window for Movistar after Javier Romo, Pelayo Sánchez, Carlos Canal, Jon Barrenetxea, Manlio Moro, Rémi Cavagna and Davide Formolo were already announced.
Quintana in his limbo period had stated that his return would mark a big win for Latin America, a part of the world he became a symbol of in the cycling world. He continued to train in Europe throughout 2023 with the hope of getting a contract for 2024.
His wins in the early 2010s were part of a larger movement that saw Colombia rise to the very peak of cycling through the likes of Rigoberto Urán, Esteban Chavez, Fernando Gaviria and of course the first-ever Latin American winner of…